3 Places to See the Coordinate Plane in Action

I was browsing through the book Family Math and found a nifty game called Hurkle. It goes a little something like this:

  1. Someone picks a place on the coordinate plane (in secret) for Hurkle to live.
  2. Others guess Hurkle’s home by giving coordinates and pointing out those coordinates.
  3. When they are wrong, they are given a hint of which way to go (from their guess) to find Hurkle.

The coordinate “space” is around too.

This made me think of the conversation I had with a neighbor the other day while walking our children to the park. When Scotty beams someone in Star Trek, he needs coordinates. But those coordinates must be measured from some origin (0,0,0) in the universe to make any sense. So where’s the origin?

A student of mine long ago found that the origin was Earth. My neighbor argued it should be Vulcan – apparently they started the United Federation of Planets.

And we can find coordinates at work in board games.

With thoughts of these two in my mind, I wonder what ever happened to the game of Battleship. It’s a great game of coordinates along with logic. Once you hit a ship, you have to go in each direction to determine how big the ship is and in what direction.

I’m excited about looking around my world today for more coordinate systems. Where do you see them in your world? And how do you apply them in your teaching? Leave your thoughts and ideas in the comments.

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2 Responses to 3 Places to See the Coordinate Plane in Action

  1. We’re still warming up to formal coordinate systems, but we obviously talk about which drawer to find one’s socks in, which block in our neighbourhood to find the yard with the wildflower garden in, and where to look on a map for the neat place in our story.

    One related issue we pondered the other week, when we were investigating the Big Bang, was the differential expansion of various portions of the universe, caused by the gravitational forces of the parts on one another. Mapping out the locations of places in the universe over that early time would be amazing!

    • Thanks, Siggi!

      Wow – differential expansion of various portions of the universe… that’s awesome!

      Could you mark x-y-z numbers on the walls starting at any corner and the determine the ordinates where the socks live? (Masking tape might be good for that.)

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